What is remote learning like for teachers?

RB teachers share their perspectives

Hannah Sales, Staff Reporter

2020 has been a crazy year. The inconsistency has been really difficult on many students and teachers. Being able to learn and to teach in this environment has been one of the most difficult aspects of being in a pandemic.  So, how has COVID-19 had an  impact on our teachers and their teaching styles here at RB? It seems that most of the teachers miss the interactions in the classroom with the students. Wendy Cassens, an English teacher here at RB, is really missing that interaction with her students and other teachers.

“I became a teacher because I am a people person and like the verbal and non-verbal communication conversation offers when you speak to a class of rectangles with initials on them, that can sometimes be hard,” said Cassens.

One thing Cassens does like is that on Mondays passing periods are ten minutes long, opposed to just five minutes during the rest of the week.

“I miss the chit chat of the passing periods–that’s why I like Mondays with the ten minute passing period as we all have more time to interact with each other,” Cassens said.

At the end of our school year last year, the teachers were teaching from home. For some teachers this was a benefit, and they enjoyed not having to commute and other benefits. However, many teachers felt the same way.

“Teaching from home was awful. There are five individuals in my household. My husband and I are both teachers and we have three children, a sophomore, and twins in 6th grade. During the months of March – May it was very difficult to have all of us at home daily trying to log in and stream classes via Zoom or Google Meet all at the same time. It always felt as if someone struggled everyday. Next, trying to find a quiet place where each one of us could work separately without interaction was the next issue. Lastly, I couldn’t “do science” from home. I didn’t have the equipment I needed or the cameras I needed to be able to even demo a lab activity. This is why this year I chose to teach from school as much as I can. This benefits my children who have been switching between hybrid and remote schedules throughout the year already and everything I need in terms of lab demos is at my disposal,” said Science teacher Michelle Koehler.

The teachers have also had some challenges with materials and being able to get certain topics communicated to their students. When asked about these things, Thomas Fuller,  an English teacher, had some wise words on the topic. 

“That has been the trickiest part, especially since we have gone into the full remote and the classes have gotten even shorter, it’s a matter of picking and choosing, even in our class, we would typically read about 8-12 plays in [Shakespeare Seminar]. We just get going into a conversation and boom the bell is ringing. Even our discussion today how our text Will in the World would wind up with a play that we are reading about and we are not there. And so that has been a challenge from the content standpoint. You know my feelings on that, content doesn’t really matter, it is skill. And so it is about trying to pick and choose the things that are going to be most useful to teach you the skills that I want you to have when you leave this class,” Fuller said.

Fuller finds it hard to interact and keep the student engaged through zoom. He tries to do different work, or projects to keep things interesting for his students. 

“And the other challenging part is trying to keep you engaged, doing things of relatively high interest while also keeping it a college level class, that is not easy. Which is why we are doing a lot of the little projects to keep it different, because I know how mentally taxing it is to be trying to do this from your standpoint right now. So you just have to make some strategic choices to do things differently because it is not a normal year,” Fuller said.

Our teachers think that they have done a great job adjusting and trying to make this the best learning experience for us all.

Teachers have had to adjust their teaching to the new hybrid schedule, this not only includes the material they teach but the way material is graded. 

Lastly, the thing that almost every student is concerned about, grades. With all of the changes and difficulties teachers are facing has this had an impact on the way teachers are grading their students? Alison Marsh, an english teacher, says they have some flexibility and compassion for their students who are struggling with the efforts of learning remotely and the hybrid versions.

“The way I grade assignments has not changed because I’ve been using Schoology for grading for several years now. I still hold students to the same standards that I always have, but I do not penalize any student for submitting assignments late. We all deserve a little grace right now, so as long as the work is done by the end of the grading period, students can earn full credit,” Marsh said.

Even though this pandemic has been difficult for both teachers and students. The RB teachers and staff are extremely dedicated to the students and are willing to do anything they need to try and help the students to get through this together. Whether it is being more creative with their lesson plans or learning new technology like zoom or google meets, the RB teachers keep their students best interest at the top of the list.